Day 2: The Mekong
Since last year, when I lived in Vientiane, the Mekong has been the center of everything here. "Mekong" in Lao means "The Mother of all things." And so it is. It's where we gather, in the half light, to eat on wooden tables and watch the sunset with Beer Lao in hand. The best sunsets I've seen in my life have been from the banks of the Mekong. In Vientiane, it forms the backdrop of the night market, all red tents and lights and river. We play frisbee on the beach, walking through the scraggy plants on the sand. In Luang Prabang, it frames the town, and shapes everyone's life. Long boats and blue-roofed Slow Boats turtle across, bearing villagers and food. Fisherman wade, waist deep, with nets in the early morning and evening. Monks and novices play and bathe by bamboo bridges; splashing in their saffron robes. It is everything here, and yet you can barely register its silent, persistent embrace, the many gifts it gives. The Mekong barely moves when you watch it; it's a lazy, brown, beautiful river, framed by soft green mountains. Right now, I watch its languid, unrushed movement from inside my house. Living on the Mekong has been such a lucky dream. I'm happy to return to the fresh, brisk, blue waters of the Mississippi, but I'll miss its more earthy, sultry, jungle-kissed cousin in SE Asia.
My view from today, while writing a paper for grad school: